Weber Provides Update On Loss of 21st Century K-5 Program Funding

April 9, 2024

RUSSELL, Pa. – Warren County School District Superintendent Gary Weber provided more details regarding the loss of funding for the K-5 21st Century program during Monday’s regular board meeting.

The district announced on Friday that funding for the K-5 summer program was “not currently available.” Monday night, Weber explained that the Pennsylvania Department of Education did not approve the district’s grant request for this cohort. He added that there are limited options to appeal the decision.

“The only thing that we can really do is request the scoring criteria back from those who have decided the awards,” Weber said. “If we feel that they violated state or federal statute, we can file an appeal but I don’t know that we’re gonna be able to do anything like that.”

Weber also explained precisely which programs this decision will impact.

“This impacts elementary summer programming and all after-school programming for elementary students,” Weber said. “It also would eliminate the administration and office support for the 21st century program. So right now, we’re in a position of reviewing what we have possibly left in ESSER or any other funding to support the summer programming to start with. And then going forward I don’t know unless the state changes something, that there’s anything that we can do in regards to the after-school program going forth.”

Weber said the district would have to find an alternative funding source “by early May” to offer the summer program this year. He added that the loss of the after-school program would also result in the district losing “half the cost we’re receiving for the after-school bus.”

Given the distribution of awards for the latest cohort, Weber said the district is preparing a letter to be sent to Warren’s state representatives about the funding decisions. Only nine of the 52 programs awarded grants are located north of Interstate 80, and 17 are in rural districts, a development Weber described as “frustrating.”

“Grant money predominately went to urban areas, cities for a number of different programs,” Weber said. “It’s very frustrating to see the rural areas across the state not getting renewed on some of this state money. And there’s no rhyme or reason for it other than the three people that made those decisions. So we’re going to be reaching out to see if there’s some things that we can do, at least to maybe, possibly get a cohort extended for a period of time just to try and do something.

“I know that’s a huge part of our schools and our after-school programming for kids. And I think it’s been a really good program for us. So we’re we’re in the process of renewing that or reviewing it to see if we can do anything.”

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